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Misty Milioto | Photo: Jason Dewey, Don Riddle and Chris Kamman | September 24, 2013
Where to ski, where to stay, where to shop and where to play—it’s the annual lowdown on the latest upgrades at our favorite slopes East and West.
As in nature itself, each ski season brings a whole host of changes, expected and not—from newly built hotels to classic resort renovations, as well as mountain modifications and new modes of transportation to get you where you’re going. So, for even the most seasoned travelers and area aficionados, checking in on classic haunts and investigating emerging hot spots is par for the course. We’ve researched the finer points of what makes up an ultimate winter wonderland experience—focusing on new developments in seven of our top ski states—think of these packed pages as your personal guide to mapping out your ideal itineraries for the ski season.
With three separate ski regions as diverse as California itself (North Lake Tahoe, South Lake Tahoe and Mammoth Lakes), the Golden State’s beaches aren’t the only natural wonder worth crowing about. Lake Tahoe alone boasts nine premier ski resorts surrounding its namesake waters, and the area continues to benefit from more than $100 million worth of capital improvements. Throw in the nonstop nightlife on the Nevada side of the lake, and you’ve got an action-packed powder locale popular with a ski set looking for a social scene more sophisticated and sexy than fireside hot cocoa.
North Lake Tahoe
Mountain Measures With more than 6,000 acres of terrain—the largest skiable acreage accessed by a single lift ticket in the lower 48
states—Alpine Meadows (skialpine.com) and Squaw Valley (squaw.com) are now entering year three of a five-year, $70 million enhancement plan. This season, $8 million worth of improvements include the new 1,000-square-foot Wanderlust Yoga Studio Squaw Valley and a $150,000 face-lift to the concert amphitheater at Squaw Valley’s KT Base Bar.
Meanwhile, the region’s highest base resort, Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe (mtrose.com)—located within a 25-minute drive from Reno—recently announced plans for a $23.5 million expansion that will add nearly 100 acres of terrain, new chairlifts, increased snowmaking capabilities and a mountaintop restaurant.
Following last year’s $30 million enhancements, Northstar California Resort (northstarcalifornia.com) is renovating the cabins on its Big Springs Gondola, making the ride a comfy one from the Village at Northstar to the Day Lodge at midmountain.
Not to be outdone, Sugar Bowl Resort (sugarbowl.com) is installing the $3 million Crow’s Peak triple chairlift, adding more than 150 acres of advanced terrain to its existing 1,500 total acres and building the $4.5 million Sport Haus Fitness and Aquatic Center. The Royal Gorge Cross Country Ski Resort has also added snow bike‐specific trails and the first resort-based snowkiting center in the state.
Après-Ski As part of its capital improvements for the 2013-14 ski season, Northstar is introducing Tavern 6330’, located slopeside near the Big Springs Gondola. With a crave-worthy menu of American classics (like hot chowder and a 16-ounce prime rib), plus a wide selection of wines, microbrews and signature cocktails, the patio scene starts early and goes late. Northstar has also begun offering private cabana service (complete with fire pits, s’mores and an assortment of cocktail sniffers) at the resort’s always popular ice-skating rink.
South Lake Tahoe
Mountain Measures Those who need a short break from skiing will enjoy Heavenly Mountain Resort’s (skiheavenly.com) new Epic Discovery program, featuring two ropes courses, a canopy tour and a zip-line center.
Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort (sierraattahoe.com) has invested $4.5 million in a new base plaza, complete with retail space, a live-music venue, indoor and outdoor seating, and fire pits. Even more exciting, the resort recently joined the Powder Alliance (powderalliance.com), a new group of 12 resorts—Angel Fire Resort (angelfireresort.com), Arizona Snowbowl (arizonasnowbowl.com), Bridger Bow (bridgerbowl.com), China Peak (skichinapeak.com), Crested Butte (skicb.com), Mountain High (mthigh.com), Mt. Hood Skibow (skibowl.com), Schweitzer Mountain Resort (schweitzer.com), Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort, Snowbasin Resort (snowbasin.com), Stevens Pass (stevenspass.com) and Timberline (timberlineresort.com)—that offers anyone who buys an anytime season pass to one of these ski resorts an additional three days at each of the other partner resorts (for a total of 33 free days!).
Getting There The newly constructed Interstate 580 provides a direct route from the Reno-Tahoe International Airport to the South Lake Tahoe resorts, meaning it’s easy to fly in and hit the hill—all on the same day.
Mountain Measures Mammoth Mountain Ski Area (mammothmountain.com) has joined The Mountain Collective (themountaincollective.com), which grants slope-goers access to more than 30,000 acres, 186 lifts and 1,281 trails on 12 mountains at AltaSnowbird (alta.com; snowbird.com), Aspen/Snowmass (aspensnowmass.com), Jackson Hole (jacksonhole.com), Mammoth Mountain, Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows and Whistler Blackcomb (whistlerblackcomb.com).
The pass includes two days at each sought-after resort (for a total of 12 days), unlimited 50-percent discounts on additional days and a 25-percent discount on lodging. In other news, Mammoth Mountain’s neighboring resort, June Mountain (junemountain.com), is reopening in mid-December with full winter operations.
Après-Ski Lakefront Restaurant’s (tamaracklodge.com) new head chef, Bobby Brown, is offering seasonal dishes, featuring domestic game and local produce. And The Westin Monache Resort, Mammoth’s (westinmammoth.com) new executive chef, Jeremy Graham, brings classical French techniques combined with a fusion of European and Asian cuisine to the hotel’s Whitebark Restaurant, Bar and Lounge. Bleu Handcrafted Foods is a new cheese and charcuterie shop, featuring West Coast cheese from farmstead dairies, plus craft beers and boutique wines.
Opening in early winter, Mammoth Rock ’n’ Bowl will combine a bowling alley, golf simulators, and an upscale restaurant and lounge. Upping the hip Hollywood vibe at Mammoth Mountain is Underground Lounge, a club that gives expected trappings like live music, a VIP area and specialty cocktails a decidedly alpine twist.
Getting There Mammoth Yosemite Airport boasts flights from Atlanta to San Diego on Alaska Airlines (alaskaair.com) and service from Atlanta to Orange County on Delta Airlines (delta.com). United Airlines (united.com) is also offering two connecting daily flights from San Francisco four days per week, and Alaska is offering two nonstop daily flights from Los Angeles six days per week.
Long-loved for its bluebird skies, a variety of terrain and seemingly limitless powder, the wide array of ultraluxe resorts in Aspen and the famous Back Bowls of Vail have made Colorado among the top ski destinations in the United States, especially among the swankier set.
Après-Ski Offering the longest ski season in Colorado (from mid-October to early July), and the highest skiable terrain in North America (summit elevation is 13,050 feet), Arapahoe Basin (arapahoebasin.com) always keeps the party going longer than anywhere else—often with the help of bacon Bloody Marys from the 6th Alley Bar, a staple hangout that’s getting a $1 million renovation (slated to reopen later this year as 6th Alley Bar & Grill) with expanded space, a horseshoe-shaped bar and additional seating.
Stay Hotel Jerome (hoteljerome.aubergeresorts.com), now owned by Auberge Resorts, is the place to mingle with Aspen’s elite. This season, enjoy its completed, extensively redesigned and historic restoration by Rowland+Broughton Architecture and Urban Design. The Living Room lounge/bar provides more space for socializing, while its American bistro, Prospect, features substantial dishes with locally sourced ingredients from Executive Chef Rob Zack. All-new is the Auberge Spa. (Fear not: The legendary J-Bar remains virtually untouched.)The hotel is also offering two Winter Auberge Adventures: a heli-skiing experience in the San Juan Mountains (guests fly from Aspen to Telluride and enjoy six guided helicopter ski runs), followed by an après-ski celebration; or privately guided ski sessions with Jonny Moseley (the only skier to have medaled in both the X-Games and the Olympics) or with Tommy Moe (a former World Cup alpine ski racer, and Olympic gold and silver medalist).
At Aspen’s only ski-in/ski-out hotel, The Little Nell (thelittlenell.com), Holly Hunt (who remodeled the hotel’s guest rooms in 2009 and the lobby in 2011) is bringing her signature sleek and clean lines to the hotel’s six VIP suites (two of which will be completed by the start of ski season).
Après-Ski In addition to the newly opened Chefs Club by Food & Wine, The St. Regis Aspen Resort (stregisaspen.com) recently opened its signature restaurant, Trecento Quindici Decano. Guests can enjoy traditional handmade pasta and focaccia with a contemporary twist from Executive Chef Thomas Riordan. In addition to an extensive selection of Italian wines, the hotel offers two exclusive private-label house wines.
Getting There Delta Air Lines (delta.com) has added daily nonstop seasonal service to Aspen/Pitkin County Airport from Atlanta.
Mountain Measures The biggest news in the ski industry this year is the Peak 6 expansion at Breckenridge Ski Resort (breckenridge.com)—the largest development of its kind at a United States ski resort in more than a decade. Breck will now have an additional 543 acres of heart-pounding terrain (400 acres of lift-served terrain and 143 acres of hike-to terrain), which represents a 23-percent increase in overall skiable acreage. The expansion provides more above-tree-line terrain for intermediate and expert skiers, 10 new trails, three new bowls and two new lifts (one four-person fixed grip lift that provides access from Peak 7 and one six-person high-speed lift that provides access above the tree line).
Mountain Measures Copper Mountain (coppercolorado.com) is investing more than $7 million in capital improvements, including a replacement Storm King surface lift that provides access to Spaulding Bowl, Upper Enchanted Forest and Copper Bowl.
Après-Ski Steamboat Springs (steamboat.com) is opening the new multimillion-dollar Four Points Lodge this ski season. The nearly 13,000-square-foot, two-level building will be home to a 200-seat restaurant with an outdoor grill, flat-screen TVs and an indoor bar.
Stay Telluride Ski Resort (tellurideskiresort.com) recently acquired the Inn at Lost Creek (innatlostcreek.com), a luxury ski-in/ski-out boutique hotel located slopeside in Mountain Village. The property’s new Siam’s Talay Grille offers fresh seafood, handmade sauces, hand rolls, lettuce wraps and specialty cocktails. Hotel Madeline Telluride (hotelmadelinetelluride.com)—also ski-in/ski-out—is set to unveil a new entrance adorned with a pair of fire pits and a new art collection (with pieces for sale at the artists’ studio prices). The hotel’s signature restaurant, Restaurant REV, is adding a street entrance, while the newly enhanced outdoor seating and a new fire pit at the hotel’s hip SMAK Bar provide the perfect place to grab a microbrew or handmade cocktail.
Getting There Allegiant Air (allegiantair.com) is offering two weekly nonstop flights from both Phoenix and Los Angeles to Montrose Regional Airport, and additional air service is now being provided by other airlines to MTJ from Atlanta.
Mountain Measures Vail Mountain Resort (vail.com) is opening two new chairlifts this ski season to increase time spent on the hill: a high-speed, six-person lift to replace the Mountaintop Express Lift (#4) from mid-Vail to the Patrol Headquarters area (increasing lift capacity by 33 percent); and a fixed-grip triple lift to replace the fixed-grip double Gopher Hill Lift (#12) (increasing lift capacity by 50 percent to the Golden Peak area and Vail Village).
Stay Four Seasons Resort and Residences Vail (fourseasons.com) recently remodeled three residences that are now available getaways. Each custom-designed abode includes a fully equipped kitchen and dining area. Choose from a five-bedroom with game room, a three-bedroom with large outdoor terrace, or a one-bedroom with lavish media room (that can sleep up to six people). The resort also recently re-launched Flame, a modern mountain steakhouse that now features tableside steak-carving and inventive dishes like the signature bison pot stickers.
The Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort and Spa (beavercreek.hyatt.com) is spending $4 million to upgrade its 190 guest rooms, and it’s also offering a new gourmet après-ski experience at 8100 Mountainside Bar & Grill. Parties of eight to 10 can book a private chef’s table for a Colorado-inspired handmade cocktail lesson—combined with a variety of small bites and a five-course dinner with wine pairings.
The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch (ritzcarlton.com) reopened this summer after an extensive $15 million renovation to its 180 guest rooms and suites, lobby, great room and other public spaces. Expect an ambience in keeping with The Ritz-Carlton brand—think sophisticated furnishings and contemporary paintings by local artists. The ski-in/ski-out hotel will also unveil a new restaurant and lounge prior to the ski season.
The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Vail (theresidencesvail.com) has introduced a collection of 10 designer residences—known as The Lionshead Collection—that are available for vacation rental or for sale. Each residence features personally selected finishes from acclaimed Colorado designers, including Eddy Doumas, who will unveil four new residences for the collection this season.
Après-Ski Vail’s new place to be is Leonora, located at The Sebastian-Vail (thesebastianvail.com). Enjoy tapas, crudo and Alpine-bistro cuisine—featuring fresh, local and organic ingredients, all paired with wines from around the globe.
Or, if you’re skiing at Beaver Creek Mountain (beavercreek.com), pick a roosting spot at Talons, the European-inspired, 17,000-square-foot restaurant that replaces Red Tail Camp at the confluence of Larkspur Bowl, Grouse Mountain and Birds of Prey. Enjoy gourmet dishes like the Kasseler Rippchen casserole or Colorado lamb burger.
The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa at Beaver Creek Mountain (westinriverfrontbeavercreek.com) has opened its signature restaurant, Maya. Grab a seat on the deck overlooking the Eagle River, and enjoy chef Richard Sandoval’s traditional Mexican dishes with a contemporary twist. Be sure to try one (or several) of the 100-plus agave-based spirits and house-infused tequilas.
Getting There Delta Air Lines is adding extra Saturday service from Atlanta to Eagle County Airport from Feb. 15 to March 29.
Mountain Measures Big Sky Resort (bigskyresort.com) has enhanced the skiing experience at the Explorer, Shedhorn, Dakota and Challenger areas through forest-glading efforts this past summer, and skiers can expect to find a revved up scene in the Mountain Mall area at the base of the lifts, thanks to a $750,000 investment.
Après-Ski Moonlight Basin Resort (moonlightbasin.com) welcomes Head Chef Chris Rennau to Jack Creek Grille. Chef Rennau studied environmental science at Montana State University and previously worked under chefs who taught him the importance of keeping food local and sustainable. As a result, he is sourcing as many ingredients as possible from local purveyors. Highlights of the new menu include the Montana wagyu rib-eye and the local grass-fed bison burger, plus a wide selection of wines, microbrews and cocktails. Meanwhile, the Moonlight Basin Spa will make a body happy with the watermelon basil creme body bliss treatment or the buffalo greens and agave nectar toning body wrap.
Getting There Delta Air Lines recently added nonstop flights from Atlanta to Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport, making the once challenging trek to Montana so much easier.
Known as the Gem of the Mountains, Idaho rightfully claims its place among popular ski destinations. In addition to epic scenery and glorious powder, Idaho is home to 18 ski resorts with a combined 18,500 skiable acres and 28,000 feet of vertical drop. One of our treasured local ski spots, Sun Valley Resort, offers up some exciting news this season.
Mountain Measures Adrenaline junkie alert: Sun Valley Resort’s (sunvalley.com) Dollar Mountain just installed a new 620-foot-long, 22-foot-high superpipe—the largest in North America! But fear not, novices—Dollar’s otherwise gentle and treeless terrain is perfect for beginners and intermediate skiers looking to perfect their form. Plus, the mountain’s SnowSports School added a Terrain Based Learning Program this season, a technique that combines traditional teaching approaches with the popular Adventure/Discovery model.
Après-Ski Gary Cooper and Ernest Hemingway put nearby Ketchum on the map in the 1940s and ’50s, and it’s still a big draw for celebrities—many of whom center themselves at Zenergy (zenergyts.com), a world-class health club and spa that just doubled its size and capacity. Now 48,000 square feet, it’s never difficult to book an acupuncture appointment or massage treatment, or register for yoga and tennis. Afterward, treat yourself right at Ketchum’s new restaurant, Enoteca (ketchum-enoteca.com), a reliable source for artisanal cheeses, house-cured meats, wood-fired pizza, and locally sourced trout and lamb.
Billed as “the greatest snow on Earth,” Utah’s variety of challenging slopes at 14 amazing resorts (the majority of which are located within one hour of Salt Lake City International Airport) are blanketed with an average 500 inches of dry, powdery snow each year—making this particular playground a go-to for skiers whose happiness hinges on reliable hill conditions.
Mountain Measures Deer Valley Resort (deervalley.com) is investing $4.5 million to upgrade its snowmaking and grooming capabilities, plus trail grading upper Deer Hollow on Little Baldy peak for better accessibility for beginning skiers.
Stay The St. Regis Deer Valley (stregisdeervalley.com) is opening a 650-square-foot pavilion on its outdoor Mountain Terrace, which will feature rustic wooden tables surrounding a fire pit, a flat-screen TV and live music from regional musicians. The space will play host to a number of culinary experiences, including the popular 7452 Bloody Mary Clinics.
Spa Montage Deer Valley (spamontage.com) offers the new 120-minute thermastone facial and kur (freezing blanket) body treatment. It begins with a soak in a hydrotherapy tub filled with mountain herbs and hot water (reaching 105 degrees), followed by a full body wrap in a kur and a balancing thermastone facial.
After you’re nice and relaxed, head over to chef Viet Pham’s new restaurant, Fire and Water, located on the corner of Main Street and Heber Avenue in Park City. Slated to open in time for ski season, the restaurant will focus heavily on hearth-smoked and grilled seafood dishes, plus smoked and aged meats.
Mountain Measures In addition to joining The Mountain Collective this year, Snowbird (snowbird.com) is offering half-off ski tickets and free valet to travelers within 24 hours of arriving in Salt Lake City via plane. The resort is also expanding its Snowcat Skiing for Nature experience, a guided backcountry ski tour for advanced and expert skiers.
Home to more than 15 ski resorts, Vermont has the most expansive skiing experience on the East Coast. For starters, there’s Jay Peak Resort, which averages almost 380 inches of annual snowfall—the most of any eastern ski resort. Then there’s Killington Resort, boasting more than 70 miles of diverse terrain spread across six peaks, and Stowe Mountain Resort, which offers the highest elevation in Vermont at 4,395 feet—making this state a must-stop destination for anyone considering a classic New England winter vacation.
Mountain Measures Jay Peak Resort (jaypeakresort.com) recently invested more than $40 million in its Stateside area revitalization plan to include a new 80,000-square-foot base lodge, pub and restaurant; the Elan Rental Center; and the 85-room State Side Hotel—all scheduled to open by December. The resort is also adding 84 new mountain cottages in December and January.
Mountain Measures Killington Resort (killington.com) has embarked on a $9.7 million project that includes a new Peak Lodge, increased snowmaking and grooming capabilities, and upgrades to the K-1 Gondola. Meanwhile, nearby Pico Mountain (picomountain.com) is getting the $1.3 million Andrea Mead Lawrence Lodge. Both ski areas are also adding more than 200 combined trails—all accessed on one lift ticket.
Stay Discover Vermont hospitality at the world-class Topnotch Resort (topnotchresort.com), located just a few miles from Stowe Mountain Resort (stowe.com). It recently reopened after a multimillion-dollar refurbishment, including a new lobby bar and restaurant, The Roost; a second redesigned restaurant, Flannel; a renovated lobby; improved outdoor terrace areas; a refreshed indoor tennis center; and redesigned guest rooms.